We all know that the machine we use to wash our clothes produces a lot of pollution. All that soap and Clorox goes down the drain at some point and is piped off to some mysterious place. What we don’t know is that a lot of it winds up in our water table, which means our rivers and streams and eventually the ocean. This is why folks like the people at Elie Ahovi spend so much of their time trying to think outside the box on ways to fix such problems. This time they wondered, as explained by Alex Davis at Treehugger, if it wouldn’t be possible to build a washing machine that doesn’t use any water, and instead levitates the clothes in a magnetic field while being blasted by sublimating dry ice causing any organic matter to be instantly frozen. The frozen matter could then be simply blown off the clothes and sucked up by a vacuum hose. Popular Science says it’s got to be great because the whole cycle would only take a few minutes.
It’s actually a little more complicated than that. The “machine” which the company has named the “Orbit” is actually a battery filled ring that is super-cooled to make it conductive. Then the clothes are put into a metal basket. As the ring is cooled and spun, since it’s pulling at the metal basket in the center from all direction, it makes the basket with the clothes in it appear to hover in air. The dry ice is made to sublimate (go from solid to gas, skipping the liquid state) by blasting it with hot air, which also carries it through the load of clothes in the basket. On the other end, is the vacuum hose which collects both the heat and the debris from the clothes. In practice it looks like a tire rim from a bicycle sans spokes and the rubber air filled tread.
But imagine watching your basket of clothes hovering in the air for a moment as the dirtiness is blasted from them. Since the clothes themselves aren’t spun, it’s conceivable that they could be folded when put in the basket, and then simply moved from the basket to the dresser.
The whole idea of course, is to wash clothes without using water, which this design does of course. But is it worth it if in the process a bunch of carbon dioxide is released into the air every time you wash your clothes?